Exhausted from their three-hour plane ride, just 700 miles off the coast of Miami, a team of eight local church members visited Haiti on a mission to spread the good news of the gospel.
From June 24 through June 28, the Rev. J. L. Carter, pastor of Ark Church in East Baltimore, led his team through the rugged country to experience Haitian life.
“Our purpose of going to Haiti was to provide help to others. I wanted to partner with an organization where we would be able to send monthly support,” said Rev. Carter.
Haiti, which has a 90 percent unemployment rate and 80 percent of its residents living in poverty, is in desperate need of economic improvement. Rev. Carter, who has visited the country several times, told the AFRO, “I wanted my members to see just how our living conditions are compared to a country less fortunate than ours.”
During their 5-day journey, they visited churches, schools, orphans, villages and schools for children who are domestic slaves. On her first visit to the country, Mia Miller said she never would have imagined a place could be so poor, yet rich in the spirit of the Lord. She said, “I didn’t know what to expect.”
“The citizens of Haiti might be poor in physical things, but they are rich in faith, rich in love, rich in respect and rich in integrity,” Miller said.
Ark Church’s mission was to be able to provide support in hopes that Haitians will live a fruitful life. In the poorest country in the western hemisphere, a country where no public assistance or help provided, they try to make good use of what they have—which isn’t much. Haiti is mostly hot and humid and some areas of the country can be almost desert-like. Water is limited; therefore Haitians rely solely on rainwater for drinking and bathing.
“Haitians aren’t getting enough clean water,” Rev. Carter said. “To them having clean water is like having money in your pocket.”
Since his initial visit, the east Baltimore pastor said a lot has changed, however there is still so much that needs to be done. “One thing I observed, particularly in the rural areas, persons were suffering and stricken with diseases because of polluted water.”
As the team traveled through some of the rural areas, Miller saw a woman with no shoes on her feet and gave her the shoes she was wearing. She said, “They appreciate everything they have and they have faith that God will provide them with more.”
The church has already made plans to return to Haiti. They plan to offer more in hopes others will be willing to do the same. Rev. Carter said Ark Church is helping by providing the resources to have a well dug in order to have clean water.
“What we’re doing is just a small band-aid of help,” he said. “The people there have strong faith. You saw religious scriptures on the sides of transportation, businesses, restaurants and bars.”
He said there were writings on sides of buildings that said, “Thank God for Jesus.”
While it’s clear God is the center of their lives, Carter said, “as a church they are inspired to do more.” “There is a great Harvest of people who need to hear the gospel and what Ark church has done was left a tremendous impact on Haitians.”
Carter told the AFRO, “we are committed.” He said, “they are so used to seeing Whites giving to them, so for a black-based organization to go and give back is great.”
In traveling throughout Haiti Miller said as a church family, we connected with organizations and other churches that they could help. “We’ve built relationships with them in a major way,” said Miller.
Upon their return, Carter said there’s a “great amount” of persons in the church who want to go on future journeys to Haiti to spread the good gospel. He said, “I have the Macedonia vision that we can do more.”
The “Macedonia vision,” is stated in Acts 16:9-10, which says, “A vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him saying, come over to Macedonia and help us. Now after he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to him.”
“I pray that other churches and communities will collectively get together to do the same, said Carter.
Carter said, “God has blessed us so that we can be a blessing to others.”